PlayStation could hurt, not help, Sony’s mobile gaming prospects
Last week, Sony unveiled its latest foray into smartphone gaming. The company showcased a ton of games and announced a new studio, ForwardWorks, which will focus solely on the mobile space. For PlayStation loyalists, there was a lot to like about Sony’s announcement. The titles on display recall the heyday of the console. Hot Shots Golf, Arc the Lad, Wild Arms and PaRappa the Rapper are just a few of the classics that will make their way to mobiles.
More recent fans would probably have noticed the similarities between Project Field – Sony’s take on the card-collecting genre, which would power experiences such as Yo-kai Watch Field – and the PS3 game The Eye of Judgment, which used the PlayStation Camera, as well as physics effects. cards, for a similar effect. The list of titles also showed plenty of third-party support for Sony’s initiative – Square Enix has partnered with Sony for an as-yet-unnamed game, while Nippon Ichi Software is working with ForwardWorks to bring the Disgaea strategic role-playing game to smartphones. .
(Also see: Sony creates a new studio to bring PlayStation games to Android and iOS)
While this all sounds good to fans, it highlights what could be Sony’s biggest problem as it tries to make its presence felt in mobile games. Sony’s announced lineup draws heavily from the era of PS1 and PS2 gaming, instead of looking at current titles. Don’t get me wrong, all of these games were hugely memorable and enjoyed for good reason. But they’re not exactly mobile-friendly, without a huge amount of retooling, including gameplay design changes. But even if you put that aside for a moment, the games themselves don’t have exactly the kind of mass appeal that’s needed on the mobile platform.
Nintendo is also beginning its journey into smartphone gaming, but to do so it uses Mario, one of the most powerful brands on the planet. Each generation of Nintendo consoles has seen many games around it, making the transition to mobile gaming easier. PlayStation, on the other hand, does not have a similar mascot. Right now, he’s probably associated with Call of Duty more than anything else, thanks to a much-publicized connection to Activision. Few games from Sony’s catalog are available on all PlayStation consoles, and there’s been no strong mascot attached to them since the days of Crash Bandicoot.
Many gamers may identify with “PlayStation Nation,” but that’s on the back of series such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted, and Killzone, among others. Some of them are cross-platform titles, while others were huge hits, but only within a specific generation of games. PlayStation’s lack of a long-running franchise could well prove detrimental at the moment, as it doesn’t have a single title around which to consolidate its efforts, making customer acquisition more difficult.
(Also see: Here are all the PlayStation games you can play on Android and iOS in 2017)
In general, Sony’s handheld gaming run has been mixed at best. The PSP and PS Vita should have given it a great library to draw from, but the reality is a bit different. The former helped gain a foothold in the handheld space, but the latter – while one of the best consoles of all time – suffered from high memory card prices and a lack of first-party support, ensuring that she will never become the success she could have been.
PlayStation Mobile – a service to ensure the best of PlayStation is also available on Android, PS Vita and PS TV, never took off. A few games, such as the LittleBigPlanet Run spin-off, Sackboy! Run, Knack’s Quest, and Ratchet & Clank: Beyond the Nexus, released on smartphones, but weren’t exactly big hits. Other than that, the company saw a number of companion apps for games, and not much else. Its only successful effort in the mobile space is Fate/Grand Order, which reportedly topped Pokemon Go in terms of downloads and revenue. But this game is run by Sony Music, rather than ForwardWorks or PlayStation.
Will things be different this time around? The first ForwardWorks launch regions include Japan and some Asian countries. The results will be interesting to watch, but it could be an uphill battle for Sony, as the mass market audience has little in common with gamers who have purchased over 50 million PS4 units so far.